6 Basics of Colorado's Landlord Tenant Law

Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants

Two young renters in Colorado riding their bikes across a bridge in Denver.
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The state of Colorado’s landlord-tenant law is meant to protect the rights of both landlords and tenants. This act spells out specific rights and responsibilities of renters and rental owners. Learn six basics every landlord and tenant in the state should become familiar with.

Fair Housing Rights in Colorado

Federal Fair Housing Act

Landlords in Colorado must follow the Federal Fair Housing Act. This Act protects certain classes of people from discrimination in housing related activities such as renting a home, buying a home, or getting a mortgage for a home. The seven classes protected under the Federal Act include:

  • Color
  • Disability (Physical and Mental)
  • Familial Status
  • National Origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex

Colorado's Fair Housing Act

In addition to the Federal Fair Housing Act, Colorado has its own Fair Housing Act. This Act protects four classes of people in addition to the seven classes of people already protected under the Federal Housing Act. These classes include:

  • Ancestry
  • Creed
  • Marital Status
  • Sexual Orientation

Examples of Discrimination in Colorado:

  • A landlord who refuses to rent to a tenant because they are single and the landlord would prefer a married couple living on the property.
  • A landlord who refuses to rent to a tenant because of the tenant’s sexual orientation.

Security Deposit Rules in Colorado

§§ 38-12-101 to 38-12-104

Landlords in the state of Colorado are legally allowed to require a one-time security deposit from their tenants in addition to the monthly rent. The specific rules landlord and tenants must follow include:

  • Rules for how much a landlord can charge a tenant.
  • How a landlord must store a tenant’s deposit.
  • Reasons a landlord can take deductions from a tenant’s security deposit.

Maximum Amount

Colorado landlord-tenant law does not set a maximum amount a landlord can charge a tenant as a security deposit. However, if you charge a ridiculous sum, such as five months’ rent, as a security deposit, you will have a very difficult time finding tenants. It is common to charge between one and two month’s rent as a security deposit.

Rules for Storing Deposit

Colorado landlord-tenant law does not put into place specific rules on how a landlord must store a tenant’s security deposit. The deposit does not have to be placed in an account at a banking or other financial institution, and the account is not required to earn interest.

Deductions

When taking deductions from a tenant’s security deposit, a Colorado landlord is allowed to make deductions for:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage to the unit
  • Unpaid utility bills
  • Unpaid repair bills
  • Unpaid cleaning bills

Colorado Rules for Landlord Retaliation

§38-12-503 and §38-12-509

Colorado’s landlord tenant law includes a statute on landlord retaliation. Tenants in Colorado have a right to file a complaint if their rental unit does not meet the standards of the warranty of habitability. However, the burden of proving that the unit violates a health, building, or safety code lies on the tenant.

If a landlord attempts to punish the tenant in some way because the tenant complained about the condition of the property, the landlord could be accused of an act of retaliation. Examples of acts of retaliation include increasing a tenant's rent or filing for retaliatory eviction.

Tenant’s Rights After Breach to Warranty of Habitability

§§ 38-12-503, 38-12-505, 38-12-507 and 38-12-508.

Colorado tenants have the right to live in a rental unit that meets certain standards. These standards are known as the warranty of habitability. If the tenant feels that conditions at the dwelling are not living up to the standards of habitability, then the tenant can file a complaint with the landlord or the local government. If the landlord does not fix the breach, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement or take the issue to court.

Rules for Domestic Violence Victims in Colorado

§§ 13-14-101(2), 18-6-800.3.38-12-103, 38-12-402 and 38-12-503

Colorado landlord tenant law has put rules in place to assist tenants who have been victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse. The statute defines what is considered domestic violence and what is considered domestic abuse.

Colorado tenants have the right to terminate their lease agreement after domestic violence or abuse. They must, however, provide the proper written notice to the landlord, as well as the proper documentation, such as a copy of a police report or order of protection.

Tenant Obligations Under Colorado's Landlord-Tenant Law

§38-12-504

Just as Colorado’s landlord-tenant law protects many rights of tenants in the state, it also gives these tenants certain responsibilities. The most basic obligations are to pay rent on time and to follow the terms of the lease agreement. In Colorado, tenants are also obligated to keep their unit in a clean and sanitary condition and to respect the quiet enjoyment of all other tenants on the premises.

Colorado’s Landlord-Tenant Law

To view the text of Colorado’s landlord tenant law, please see Colorado’s Revised Statutes §§13-40-101 to 13-40-123 and §§38-12-101 to 38-12-601.

The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.